December 30, 2008

The Crafty Gifts

Knowing that I had committed to finishing a quilt for Christmas, I was determined to keep the rest of the Christmas crafting simple.This scarf, for my other aunt, was the only other thing in the queue. I started it just to keep my hands busy when my grandmother was in the hospital. Nothing portable was on the needles, and I'd just finished my linen wrap. So, I grabbed the needles and leftover yarn and cast on for a scarf in the same pattern. While we waited, my aunt admired the emerging pattern and so I knew it was meant to be hers. I was right; she loved it.
But, as it turned out, Wandering Flamingoes, the scarf and a super-secret project for the early spring were all completed well in advance of Christmas. And so, I added another project to the queue, naturally. My almost-married-and-actually-cooking-these-days sister needed an Emmeline apron to go with the cutting board she requested. I mean, look at that cute gathered bodice.
And its power to be easily reversed when you've made a mess of your apron just as your guests are walking in the door.
And the fact that she loves it. She also looks so much better in it than I did. I should probably figure out why and what to adjust before I make one for myself, because I will definitely be making one for myself.

Christmas, Part I

Alex and I spent Christmas with his family this year. It was an adjustment for me, without a question. I have missed only one other Christmas morning with my family in my 32 years, and I've never gone all of Christmas day without them. But, we dodged this decision all the years we dated by never spending Christmas together. I am not willing to do that now, obviously. And so, we spent our first Christmas morning at home by ourselves, and then hosted my family Christmas night. Our second Christmas day we spent with my family, and so this year Alex needed the time with his family. And while it was different, as family traditions inevitably are, it was lovely.
Instead of dogs sniffing at the packages, there was a guardian cat.
And there was still an abundance of great food. (Including the inevitable whole lamb that graces any major celebration at my father-n-law's home. My mother-in-law confided this year that she's a bit tired of the lamb, actually.)
With the extended family in Bulgaria, there was a much smaller, calmer celebration. And with no young kids around, it was a Christmas lunch when the twenty-something year old finally woke up.
There was plenty of whimsy, including these caviar snowmen on their snowboards. I love these.
And, I got to watch an 8 year old girl trounce Alex at boxing.

Wandering Flamingos - Grand Finale

And so, the quilt that spoke my aunt's name all those months ago is done.

Pieced, quilted and bound.

It was perfect. It made her cry. And I find there is really nothing more to be said.

December 24, 2008


When we were learning to drive, my father told us that you always have to keep a good distance from a semi, because it will 'suck you under.' My sister, upon hearing this overly dramatic description of a semi's draft, pictured the scene in graphic detail with her artist's inner eye. And, of course, she was immediately terrified to drive within half a mile of a semi. Mom's gentle coaching and a good deal of practice finally overcame that fear and left her with the more normal healthy caution most of use around large trucks.

Fast forward to college, and most of her four hour drive home from college is on an empty, undeveloped stretch of I-95. On one trip home, she comes up on a semi who is doing 30 miles an hour on the interstate and, naturally, passes him. A few minutes later he passes her doing 100 or more. But then, she comes up on him again and he's again well under the speed limit. This continues for awhile, and with no exits nearby and no decent alternate route to use even if she took one she can't figure out how to get away from a driver who is obviously falling asleep at the wheel. Finally, she passes him and drives faster than she would normally drive. Thinking she's gotten away from him, she drops back to her normal speed and continues on her way home - probably muttering various imprecations about crazy truck drivers under her breath. Until, she looks in her rearview window just in time to see he's coming up on her again. And this time he hits her. And takes off, leaving her on the side of the empty interstate in the middle of swamp. This is one of the times that I am hugely grateful for the six year difference in our ages, because she has a cell phone with which to call for help. She's fine, the car is not. Needless to say, it took years for her not to have to quell a panic attack when driving near a semi. But, eventually she gets more comfortable, and if she's a little more anxious than the average driver when a semi approaches, well, who can blame her? After all, who gets hit by a semi?

And then last night, my family came over to kick of Christmas a bit early and see us before we head down to my in-laws for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My sister called an end to the party around 10:30, announcing that they were leaving so I could go to bed. (Unlike all the vacationing revelers, I had to work today.) They've been gone around 20 minutes and I'm brushing my teeth when Alex's phone starts to ring on our dresser, and I see my sister's name on the caller ID. She's calling us, because, and I quote, "We were hit by a semi, and I feel like we should tell somebody." (She didn't want to call Mom, who was still driving home her self, and distract from her driving or have her turning around and coming back.) After being reassured that they weren't hurt and the police had already responded, I couldn't help but think what is with her and semis?

And, before you think that there is no way lightning could hit twice and she must be taking risks somehow, both her fiancee and the eyewitness in a car behind them swear she did absolutely everything right. She was properly passing the semi, well within her lane, when the semi changed lanes on top of her. She swerved and avoided being hit by him, and she had even regained control of the fishtailing car when the semi clipped the back of the car, sending them spinning in to the guard rail. (The semi, in case you were wondering, did not stop even though there was no way he didn't know he hit them. The police believed they'd be able to find him by looking for damage on the front of semis stopped along the interstate.) Only because she had steady the car and slowed drastically did they avoid serious injury. The car on the other hand, did not.

So, I put back on my clothes and went to get them. They spent last night at our house, though none of us got much in the way of sleep. We gave them aspirin to head off the inflammation, beer to relax the muscles and The Grinch to soothe the spirit. My big sister instinct wanted to keep them there forever, safe in my house where I could keep an eye on them. But, it doesn't work that way, so this morning I handed them my car keys and hugged them goodbye. I will content myself with being grateful for the Christmas blessing that brought them home to me last night, and mindful of the potent reminder of the most important part of the Christmas season.

I still can't help wondering, though, who gets hit by a semi twice?

December 21, 2008

His and Hers

My Christmas crafting is coming to a close, and I am finally getting around to taking pictures before wrapping things up. This scarf was a last minute addition to my Christmas list. My cousin's and their on-the-cusp-of-being-teenagers kids are coming to Florida to see us for Christmas; the first Christmas I've spent with them since I left D.C. Its also only the second time I've seen the kids since I left D.C. almost seven years ago.

I wanted something special for them, and of course that means handmade. I already had one Rubblework Scarf that I made last Christmas but ended up not gifting when the intended recipient didn't spend the holiday with us after all. I pulled it out, and I knew it was the perfect gift for my young cousin. And, when I found the wonderful solar system fabric, a matching scarf for her brother was a given.

Of course, my to do list was already long and my time short. Fortunately, the Rubblework Scarf is an easy evening's work. I easily finished it up and delivered it, along with its sister, to my Mom. She'll be putting together a basket of goodies to keep them entertained on the long drive back up. We figure these flannel backed beauties will help keep them warm as they leave Florida and head back in to the snow.

(Unfortunately, the colors aren't true in these photos, but they are the closest I can get. The second flannel is not burgundy, but a rich purple.)

December 15, 2008

 We're in full Christmas swing around here, and this weekend was filled with lots of holiday joy.  First, we visited Santa's Tree Farm.  We've already declared it our new tradition.
For one thing, we managed to find a tree that makes both this Florida girl and a boy who grew up with 'real' Christmas trees very happy.  And we visited with the local residents, keeping a safe distance from the Grinch.  He is definitely conflicted about his grinchiness, though.  He kept coming up asking for attention and trying to convince us the big sign was a big lie and we should pay it no mind.But, we felt it safer to go to the holiday party and hang out with an elf who paints faces.  Plus,  we're pretty sure in her contract she promised not to bite.And now we're spending each evening enjoying the glitter of the Christmas tree.  I really love the Christmas season.

p.s. I've also been doing some Christmas sewing.  I'll post photos soon!

December 05, 2008

Pretty as a Picture

Kathy, from Pink Chalk Studio, offered one of her mini wallets recently and all you had to do was give her feedback on which colors you liked best and why.  I would have been compelled to comment on the stack of lovelies anyway.  But, it was a nice surprise when the random number generator picked my comment and I received this pretty little pouch in the mail. The fabrics are lovely and the wallet is very high quality.  

I don't need a mini wallet, but I need a protective case for the pretty pink little camera Alex gave me for my birthday.  Its intended as my 'carry around' camera for all those times you wouldn't take the big (expensive) Digital Rebel, and I carry it in my purse every day.  This little pouch is the perfect size to carry the camera and it looks classy in my purse.  Perfect.

December 04, 2008

Campfire Knitting

I'm a little late telling you about it, but that camping trip I keep mentioning was great.  I grew up camping 9 times a year or more.  I have great memories and great stories of the trips that weren't so great.  We don't often have a chance to camp now, and I really miss it.  So, that was my birthday request this year.  And my family came through in spades - my parents, my sister and her fiancee, her future in laws, and two of the families we camped with during my childhood.  
It was unseasonably cold, though, and we spent the nights and mornings huddled in our coats and around the fire. But, it warmed up during the day and was great. We did some hiking, and some laying in the sun with the dogs. Just look at this pack. No question who is Alpha, is there?  (Trying to count the dogs? Four.  And a husband.  And, look, they are using the picnic quilt I made!)
And when the gloves came off, I sat around the fire visiting with people I love and knitting on the Ribby Pulli.  Heaven on Earth - and some serious progress on a beautiful sweater.
The yarn is definitely not my favorite.  Its stiff, and therefore unforgiving, but more annoyingly each skein has at least one knot and most have more.  The color is beautiful, though, and I think the sweater will look good on.

December 02, 2008

The Ordinary

I was in my office one night recently when I glanced up from the computer and over to my left. My thoughts were immediately pulled from the document I was drafting and captured by this scene. The bright blue of the sign from the bank across the street shining crisply in the dark of the almost-winter sky. The candle, a birthday gift from my assistant, glowing warmly on my side of the window. The african violet that thrives despite the hermetically sealed environment of an office. The piles and piles of paper from a job that gives me challenge, financial independence, and immense satisfaction.